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Antique Teddy Bears

Teddy bears are special toys to both children and collectors. Evidence of the first toy teddy bears appears in the children's book "The Three Bears," published by McLoughlin Brothers in 1888. The book contained three colored prints that show a stuffed teddy bear. This book was published 15 years before the Steiff company produced its first teddy bears, suggesting homemade toy bears may have existed in the late 1800s.

Richard Steiff designed the first manufactured teddy bear in 1902. The Steiff company of Germany was the first to produce teddy bears, but others soon followed suit. Gerbruder Bing toy company of Nuremburg began producing bears around 1906. The Ideal Toy and Novelty Company first made their teddy bears around 1906 as well. Schuco of Germany produced the yes/no bear and the bellhop bear, both popular in the '20s. Farnell of England produced teddy bears in multiple colors which were also popular in the '20s.

Antique teddy bears are rarely marked, as their markings or tags were often pulled off by children during play. Provenance, such as pictures or family stories in writing, increases the value of an antique teddy bear by as much as 50%. Antique teddy bears in excellent condition with provenance can sell for record-high prices.

Quick Facts

  • The Uncle Remus teddy bear was produced in the United States in 1906 and 1907. Based on the "Uncle Remus" stories, the bears' eyes were sewn using a special procedure that prevented them from falling out
  • Some sources credit Morris Michtom, founder of the Ideal toy company, as the inventor of the teddy bear. Historical sources, however, document Steiff as the originator of teddy bears
  • A honey-colored Farnell teddy bear was the inspiration for A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh

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